There is a lot of discussion about whether we should feed dogs “human” foods. Is it good for them or not? Well, the answer is ‘it depends’. A broadly accurate principle to follow is: if it’s good for humans, it’s good for dogs too.
Some foods are not only OK to feed your dog but can provide awesome health benefits. With some notable exceptions, most of the fresh and healthy food that we eat can also be given to our dogs as part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet.
Fruit is a great food source, full of nutrients, minerals and vitamins. While grapes, cherries and citrus fruit such as lemons, limes and grapefruit should be all avoided, many fruits are enriching supplements to your dog’s mealtime.
Are Bananas Safe For Dogs To Eat?
For many owners, knowing what is safe for their dogs and what is not can be a tricky set of rules to navigate. With so many warnings about toxic foods that can poison our beloved pets, owners opt to avoid them altogether, thus eliminating any risk.
However, there are some significant health benefits that your dog could be missing out on by not spending a little time researching and experimenting with different fruits. So, let’s talk about bananas.
Firstly, YES! Bananas are safe for our dogs to eat and they are actually quite good for them. However, and probably unsurprisingly, I do not advise feeding your dog the skin. It is not that it contains any harmful substances but it is thick and hard to digest. We don’t eat it and neither should they.
Why Should I Feed My Dog Bananas?
Bananas contain high levels of potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and fibre, as well as other nutritious qualities. They are low in calories and hold almost no fat.
They also score low on the glycemic index which is a guide to how quickly glucose can spike blood sugar levels, something we don’t want. Slow-releasing energy foods are much better.
And if all that is not reason enough to feed your dog the odd banana, they are great at reducing hunger as they actively work at slowing down the rate at which the stomach empties. Keeping your dog feeling fuller for longer.
Why Is Potassium Good For Dogs?
Potassium is an essential mineral for maintaining a healthy life. Its primary function is to regulate fluid balance. Inadequate fluid intake or excessive fluid loss can result in dehydration. Dehydration can lead to more serious problems.
However, potassium is also accredited with maintaining a healthy blood pressure level, which is great for heart health. It helps strengthen muscles by breaking down carbohydrates to be used for energy.
And it also supports the nervous system which controls so much of the body’s functions, both consciously and unconsciously.
Why Are Vitamin B6 And Vitamin C Important?
Vitamin B6, like a lot of the B vitamins, is important in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It also works with potassium to regulate blood pressure, which in turn promotes healthy arteries and blood vessels.
Vitamin C is a super-booster for the immune system. It also encourages the growth and repair of cells within body tissue.
This process is vital to healing wounds, maintaining strong cartilage and bones, and reducing inflammation. Reducing inflammation is important, especially around the brain when ageing. It protects the brain, keeping our dogs cognitively healthy for longer.
Why Do Dogs Need Fibre?
Fibre is essential for a healthy digestive tract. It has the amazing ability of being able to both cure constipation and diarrhoea. However, as with all fibre, too much of it can cause uncomfortable bloating, gas and constipation.
The dietary fibre that bananas provide is a prebiotic. This means that it helps the stomach take in the good probiotics from bacteria.
Fibre can also improve cholesterol levels and prevent the blood from absorbing sugar too quickly. This is good because spikes in sugar will lead to crashes and this leaves a dog feeling hungry again.
We want our dogs to feel fuller for longer and not beg for food as they feel like they have an empty tummy.
How Much Banana Should I Give My Dog?
Bananas should be given as a treat to supplement a balanced diet. As mentioned above, too much fibre can have some adverse effects. It is always best to start with small amounts and build up when introducing a new food source, especially with a dog that has a sensitive stomach.
Moderation is key. You do not want to remove all that great nutritional value because too much too soon has resulted in a poorly tum. However, when your dog is happily eating bananas without them impacting negatively on their digestive system (no runny stools or issues passing stools), the recommended doses are as follows:
- Medium to large dog – half a regular banana per day.
- Small to medium dog – 2-3 slices of banana per day.
- Puppies – 1-2 slices per week.
How Should I Feed My Dog Bananas?
There are lots of great ways to incorporate bananas into your dog’s diet that are much more interesting for them than just food in a bowl. Although, I am sure they would be happy with a mashed up banana topping.
- Slice into discs and freeze for a treat on a hot day.
- Slice up and dehydrate for a tasty chewy treat
- Mash-up with peanut butter. Add to moulds and refrigerate.
- Coarsely mash-up and stuff in a hidden food rubber toy.
- Incorporate into homemade dog biscuits
When it comes to our dogs, we want to give them the very best life possible. As well as long walks, playtime and cuddles, a nutritious and exciting diet is important. The food we feed our dogs is what fuels them for life and keeps them healthy and happy.
So ditch the fatty, shop-bought snacks and pick up a bunch of bananas. They are simple to prepare, cheaper and much healthier for your dog.
If you have any feedback on your experiences with feeding bananas to your dog or if you have a banana-based recipe you would like to share with other readers, please comment below. Alternatively, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.